Kochi Diaries 3 – Exploring My City

100 Happy Days – Day 69

Exploring My Very Own City

My first trip to Fort Kochi was for a photo shoot. Until then, being a Kochiite, it never occurred to me to pay a visit to Fort Kochi. Somehow, no one ever told me to and the thought never came up. After the first trip, I fell in love with the place and decided to go back. It was after my second visit that I wrote about Fort Kochi, Mattanchery and the Police Museum. I decided that I would visit again.

This time, my cousin was home and after our adventures with Arlo and Spot, we decided to go to Fort Kochi. We had cycling in our mind which did not happen. That could be taken care of in another trip.

We hired an Uber since there were three of us. We wanted to go to Princess Street first. But since none of us (including the driver) knew where it was and I just had a vague idea, we asked him to drop us off nearby. I found this beautiful Bungalow which is a home-stay and took a picture. It was very beautiful off-screen. Trust me!

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Next, we walked some distance to buy slippers for R since hers broke midway. We found some graffiti on the wall nearby. They looked beautiful.

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After my first visit, I began to read more about Kochi and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica – one of the eight Basilicas in India – was among the many places I wanted to visit. This time, we had other things in mind and hence, I just had a glimpse of it from outside.

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A Picture from outside the gate

Our next stop was The Kashi Art Cafe. It has a room dedicated to art and also a classy cafe attached to it. The Art on display comprised of charcoal drawing and photographs that spoke about the feminine body and how it has been perceived. The author’s description includes, “…my objective has been to trace the origins of societal dichotomy towards the feminine gender. A continued referencing of imageries from various sources like miniature paintings, early prints and archived old photographs allowed me to address the changing notions of feminine identity, empowerment, sexuality and tolerance of the same.”

The cafe isn’t restricted to a single room but is quite expansive, each area looking different from the rest. It was buzzing with people both locals and tourists. My favorite part was the portion that joined the two parts of the cafe. They had placed some classy antique pieces and I couldn’t stop looking at them.

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The Entrance to the Cafe
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The Path that connects both parts of the cafe. Look at the antique pieces.
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Just loved the flooring on the connecting path.

Once outside, I noticed this quote written on the wall. I didn’t know this quote of Mahatma Gandhi’s. Loved it instantly specially because it has been written across a wall. We rarely come across such beautiful quotes on streets.

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I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

Another beautiful, red building I couldn’t help but capture.

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Our next visit was to the beach. This is the skeleton of the Chinese fishing net; sans the net. Then you could sea the waves and also the horizon after the sun has just set.

On our way back, I couldn’t take my eyes off this white Bungalow with the lights. The cart has been so well placed that, to my eyes, it seems out of the world. There is something eerie about the building and the windows and something elegant about the cart. This is my favorite picture among the lot.

Did I mention that it is the same Bungalow I have put up in the beginning of the post? 😀

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We were waiting for our Uber to arrive when I saw the e-toilets. I wasn’t aware that they were here. I never saw any in Ernakulam and so, I was excited when I saw them there. Oh come on! My sisters teased me too. But this means clean public toilets, clean city, reduction in urinating in public etc. It means someone cares after all.

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What happens next? We are very hungry! I promised my cousin that i’ll take her to Goli – Vada Pav place. So, that is where we are headed next. If you have a Goli outlet nearby, please do visit. The Masala Vada Pav is my favorite.

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One of these pictures depict how we Kochiites could reach Mumbai with just Rs. 25. 😀

It was a very memorable day, well spent and that too in our own home town. I will be going back to Fort Kochi soon. There are many unexplored places to visit.

Home is Where the Heart is

As I swerve and maneuver through the city traffic, I notice all the buildings lighting up. I have way too much time to look at all the decorations since there is a heavy traffic. Though I am not a fan of traffic, I know what this means. It means development. It means in a couple of years, the traffic would reduce. I look at all the pillars constructed and try to imagine how the place would look when the metro is ready and running. I can’t wait. Soon, Kochi known as The Queen of Arabian Sea, will have another name to it, The Metro City.

I have heard my colleagues and friends say that Kochi lacks the kind of coolness and serenity that many other districts in Kerala have. I think they don’t look well enough. I think it is the other way round. Kochi has everything provided you look for them at the right places. We have the rich history and places that narrate them, we have the waves kissing the shore, we have the city lights that dance and twinkle at nights and we have those silent greenery that invites you in. The best part is, no matter what Keralites think about Kochi, they are bound to come here for something or the other. For Kochi, is the center of everything.

The city is designed with a perfect blend of city life, cultural heritage and breathtaking beauty. We have Mahatma Gandhi Road, Convent junction & Broadway where the city life is at its maximum. While you get all the branded stores and a wide range of restaurants in M G Road, Convent junction offers you a combination of rich, sophisticated as well as inexpensive stores. Broadway is the most crowded of all with their wholesale  shops, aroma of spices rending the air and the tag of ‘everything at low prices’. Go a bit further and you will find our very own Marine Drive facing the waters. The Rainbow bridge there is offers one of the most beautiful sunsets. Every time I go anywhere near Marine Drive, I am tempted to go and sit there for a while.

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The Rainbow Bridge at Marine Drive

Then there is Fort Kochi & Mattanchery where the tourists pour in to see the Jewish Synagogue; the oldest active Synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations, Santa Cruz Basilica; one among the eight Basilicas in the country, the Cochin Palace/The Dutch Palace that preserves the story of the Kings of Kochi and the fragments of their lifestyle during those times. Buildings constructed by the British during their rule and the streets named by them, stand out from rest of the city. You know the difference when you see the building or the street. Here is my account of our trip to Fort Kochi & Mattanchery

Interiors of the Jewish Synagogue

Visiting Thripunithura will leave you confused because, it isn’t like anything I just described. It is that part of Kochi brimming with Palaces of Gods. Though there are a lot of famous temples, Thripunithura has lot more around. Chottanikkara, Chakkankulangara, the Poornathrayeesha, Thamaramkulangara Sree Dharma Sastha temple and many more. The Hill Palace which is the Thripunithura Palace is one of the best tourist places here.

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Poornathrayeesha Temple Ulsavam

 

Flanked by Alappuzha & our cultural capital Trichur districts on both sides, Kochi is well connected. Anyone in Kerala would have heard of the North and South railway stations that serve as the common-point for all the malayalees. Isn’t train your favorite mode of transportation? You have our KSRTC bus stand near the South Railway station. And also the Vytila bus Hub.

The pride of Kochi lies in the Cochin International Airport – Nedumbassery that witnesses umpteen happy and sad moments daily. The airport, which is the first entirely solar-powered airport in the world, is what connects us to the entire world.

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Cochin International Airport – Nedumbassery

Kochi hosts India’s first bi-annual art biennale, Muziris Biennale where a number of artists display their experimental arts. I have come across some mind-blowing artwork in the Biennale.  This is an example for our appetite for adventure and that is what drives us.

You will come across a wide variety of people here with different goals, aims, looks and behavior. Ones embracing the culture and traditions and wearing them in their persona, others open to experimenting, who are still as desi as one could be, but also have the thirst for adventure, to try something new. The ones who celebrate all the temple Ulsavam (Festivals in temples) day in and out, who dance for the Panchari melam (Percussion ensemble) in temples and also dance for the DJs. The women who wear all sorts of modern dresses, yet bow their heads when they pass by a temple, church or mosques. The love for our city and culture and the openness to explore the world is what drives us. That is what makes Kochi a potpourri of cultures, traditions and adventure!

A Proud Kochiite reluctantly ends the endless saga of her city – Kochi – which is indeed made of great.

PS – I have to mention that India’s largest mall – Lulu mall – is right here. Barely 3 Kms from my home and people from all over the state come to visit this mall. There is nothing you don’t get at the hypermarket there. 🙂

 

Image courtesy for all images: wikipedia.org

Kochi Diaries 1 – Fort Kochi, Mattanchery Trip

100 Happy Days – Day 32

Happiness is going on trips

Part 1 – Fort Kochi, Mattanchery

Being a Kochiite, I have never gone to Fort Kochi or Mattanchery as a visitor. I never had the opportunity. But for some time now I have been wanting to go there. Specially after I went to Fort Kochi for a photo-shoot and realized how different that place was from the rest of Kochi.

That day, by 2.30 pm, we – My Sister, my best friend and I – started towards our planned Fort Kochi & Mattanchery trip. I had my Lavy and he had his bike and so it was a pleasant ride from here. With around 3 bridges to pass through (Frankly, I lost count :P), I was mesmerized as always seeing the water body. I was torn between the need to ride and the urge to keep looking at the waters. Man! That is risky!

These were the places we went to during the trip;

  1. The Pardesi/Jewish Synagogue
  2. The Clock Tower
  3. The Streets of Mattanchery
  4. The Police Museum
  5. The World’s biggest Uruli
  6. The Dutch Palace
  7. Fort Kochi

The Pardesi/Jewish Synagogue

In about half an hour, we reached Mattanchery and began with the Jewish synagogue. Once we took the tickets, we were led to a room that had illustrations and description about the history of the synagogue. I tried reading some, skipped some and remembered a very few interesting facts. I never knew Kodungallur was known as Cranganore. Sounds really cranky!

The synagogue was built in the 1568 by the Jews. The flooring was laid using 18th-century, hand-painted, porcelain tiles. One of the most fascinating things I found in the description was that, no two tiles are similar. Sure enough, when we scrutinized, though they all looked similar at first, there were minor differences between each tile. Photography was prohibited and so, I couldn’t get a close up image of the tiles. However, Wikipedia did give me an image of the interiors which you can see below. At the center of the synagogue is a brass railed pulpit. But, what caught my eyes were the Belgian glass chandeliers. You can see them all hanging majestically. I wonder how the place looks at night, with all the lights.

You can see the tiles on the floor. They are all unique.

Image courtesy: wikipedia.org

The Clock Tower

While entering the Synagogue, you could see an 18th century clock tower which is also an attraction there. In the image below is the clock tower. The entrance to the synagogue is towards the left, next to the lamp shade.

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The Streets of Mattanchery

The streets of Mattanchery is filled with antique shops, art galleries, display of black metal jewelry, pashmina & cashmere shawls, a combination of ethnic designs, North Indian and western outfits etc. I was pointing at everything in the vicinity saying variants of ‘wow’s and ‘so beautiful’s.

Some buildings had beautiful structures. I don’t know what they call them, but a lot of intricate handiwork had gone into making them. This is one such thing I found before a shop.

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I don’t think it looks as beautiful in the picture as in reality. Those water plants are in itself a beauty. And when they are laid out like this in a miniature well, it enhances the beauty further. I would definitely have one like this built in my mansion some day. 😉 Oh! And look at the artefacts inside the shop. We do have a hanging lamp at home. So, that’s one down. 😛

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As I walked down the street, I decided to take some pictures of the shops. Again, this isn’t how it looks. The streets are beautiful and I need a real camera. 😦 You can see all the clothes, scarves, the jewelry, the ethnic bags etc. All the colors were driving me crazy. 😀

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The Police Museum

The Police Museum is a display of history of the State’s police from the era of Kings of Travancore to now. Also, some random things from those times.

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Entrance to the Police Museum

We entered through the left side where they had displayed mannequins with various police uniforms starting from the Travancore Kings’ era until now. I was surprised to see the drastic change. Women police, at one point of time had skirts. Also, they had displayed the different types of caps used.

The central portion of the museum had a multitude of artifacts, some of which were very beautiful and intriguing. Towards the left side of the premises, there were various kinds of swords displayed. They are all reserved for another post.

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The World’s biggest Uruli

Uruli is a traditional cookware in Kerala. They are often used mostly for religious ceremonies; in Temples or for Poojas at home. Nowadays, you can see them in various sizes adorning the drawing room of many Malayalis. And why not!? It looks majestic as you can see below.

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The picture given above was taken at an antique store in Mattanchery. They claim this to be the world’s largest Uruli that got into the Limca book of records. It looked so aesthetic, filling the entire hall of the shop. I also silently wished that there were turtles in the water. It would be fun watching them. 😛 I love the intricate work on its body. Isn’t she a beauty?

The Dutch Palace 

Our last stop in Mattanchery was the Dutch palace. Though it is named so, it was built by the Portuguese in 1555. It was gifted to the then king of Cochin. Later on, the Dutch carried out some extensions and renovations and hence the name Dutch palace. It is built atop a Devi temple.

The palace is built in the traditional Kerala style (naalukettu) and has a courtyard in the middle. They don’t let us see all the parts of the temple which is sad because, there was a particular corridor which looked irresistible. If we stand there, we could see the entire interior portion of the palace which is the specialty of a naalukettu.

  • In one room, they have placed mural paintings depicting scenes from Ramayana.
  • In another, they have displayed the different types of swords used by the king and the royal soldiers.
  • They have also displayed palanquins in various sizes and shapes. They looked irresistible.
  • The next room showcased the various stamps and coins over the years, map of the palace, map of Kochi, details of many Kings, their pictures and so on.
  • Another section had the exhibits of huge locks used in those days, shampoo and oil containers, combs, hair pins etc used by the royal women.

I am sure that I have missed out many things, but this is what happens when they don’t let you take pictures.

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi is where the God’s own country takes a tangy twist. The buildings there have a western finish to them with their posh looking windows, bright and chic paints in different colors, streets named after Westerners whom I really don’t know. My favorite of all is the princess street. I felt that was the most colorful and unique area there. We walked through the street for a while, and then went to the beach.

Once we were done with that, we went back to Mattanchery, munched into some cold Pepsi and hot vada pav from Goli and started back home. I really can’t wait to go there again. We couldn’t cover many places and one day, I will. This is just the beginning. 🙂